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Biodiversity & Environment

Wild Life Licensing Rules 2024

  • 24 Jan 2024
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: Wild Life (Protection) Licensing (Additional Matters for Consideration) Rules, 2024, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, CITES

For Mains: Wildlife Conservation, success and challenges involved in Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Wild Life Licensing Rules

Source: DTE

Why in News?

The central government recently introduced Wild Life (Protection) Licensing (Additional Matters for Consideration) Rules, 2024, amending the wildlife trade rules, 1983 resulting in significant changes in the licensing process and exclusions of certain species.

  • The amendments became operational on 16th January, 2024, marking the first revision since 1983.

What are Wild Life Licensing Rules 2024?

  • Schedule I:
    • The rules published in 1983 state that no such licence shall be granted to trade in a wild animal specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, except with the previous consultation of the central government.
      • This condition has been changed in the new guidelines, which say no such licence shall be granted if it relates to any wild animal specified in Schedule I to the Act, except with the previous consultation of the Central Government.
    • This means that the restrictions on Schedule I species, which include animals requiring utmost protection, such as tigers, elephants, rhinos, etc., are still in place, with a provision for consultation.
  • Schedule II:
    • The significant change in the new guidelines is the removal of licensing restrictions for species listed in Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
    • This implies that the licences for trading in Schedule II species can be granted without any consultation or approval from the central government, which was required earlier.
  • Factors Considered in Licensing:
    • The new rules also specify the factors that the authorised officers must consider while granting licences, such as the capacity of the applicant, the source and manner of obtaining supplies, the number of existing licences in the area, and the implications on hunting or trade of the concerned wild animals.

What are the Concerns Regarding the New Rules?

  • Exclusion of Schedule II Species:
    • The notification does not provide clarity on why licensing restrictions for Schedule II species have been removed.
      • Schedule II encompasses important species, such as endangered mammals, birds, turtles, geckos, and snakes, and their exclusion from licensing restrictions raises concerns about the level of protection they will receive.
    • The lack of clarity necessitates further scrutiny to ensure that the revised rules adequately address conservation needs and do not inadvertently compromise the protection of vulnerable wildlife.
  • Rationalization of Schedules in 2022:
    • The schedules of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 were rationalized in The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022, leading to changes in the categorization of species.
    • Before the 2022 amendment, schedules were based on the level of endangerment of species. The recent rationalization may have altered the criteria for categorizing species.
      • Experts question whether the exclusion of certain species in Schedule II aligns with the rationalization process and whether those species have indeed increased in numbers, justifying a lower level of protection.

Status of Wildlife Trade

  • India is a bio-diverse country, with nearly 6.5% of the world's known wildlife species. Approximately, 7.6% of the world's mammals and 12.6% of the world's birds are found in India.
    • The illicit demand, globally, for wildlife and its products has seen the rise of wildlife crime across the subcontinent.
  • In India, wildlife trade includes diverse products including mongoose hair; snake skins; Rhino horn; Tiger and Leopard claws, bones, skins, whiskers; Elephant tusks; deer antlers; turtle shells; medicinal plants; timber and caged birds such as parakeets, mynas, munias etc.
    • A large part of this trade is meant for the international market and has no direct demand in India.
  • India is one of the top 20 countries for wildlife trafficking and one of the top 10 for wildlife trafficking by air.
  • The World Wildlife Report 2020 by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that between 1999 and 2018, 6,000 different species of flora and fauna were seized globally.

What is the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972?

  • About:
    • The Wild Life (Protection) Act, of 1972 provides a legal framework for the protection of various species of wild animals and plants, management of their habitats, regulation, and control of trade in wild animals, plants, and products made from them.
    • The act also lists schedules of plants and animals that are afforded varying degrees of protection and monitoring by the government.
    • After the enactment of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 became applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Latest Amendment:

Way Forward

  • Establishing a robust and transparent mechanism for the consultation and approval process for Schedule I species, and ensuring the participation and representation of the relevant stakeholders.
  • Providing a clear and rational explanation for the exclusion of Schedule II species from the consultation and approval process, and the criteria for selecting the species.
  • Strengthening the enforcement and compliance of the wildlife trade laws and regulations, and enhancing the penalties and incentives for the violators and the abiders.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q. If a particular plant species is placed under Schedule VI of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, what is the implication? (2020)

(a) A licence is required to cultivate that plant.
(b) Such a plant cannot be cultivated under any circumstances.
(c) It is a Genetically Modified crop plant.
(d) Such a plant is invasive and harmful to the ecosystem.

Ans: (a)


Q. How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 helpful in the conservation of flora and fauna? (2018)

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